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Step up your workout with interval training

Lifetimes exercise demonstration. Jerry Biehn demonstrates Tuck and Reach. (Photo 1 of 2)
JOHN PENDYGRAFT  |  Times
Lifetimes exercise demonstration. Jerry Biehn demonstrates Tuck and Reach. (Photo 1 of 2) JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times
Published Jan. 23, 2015

Bored with your workouts? What better time than now, the beginning of a new year, to rev up your fitness routine. Research tells us interval training not only improves fitness, but helps burn fat faster than steady-state aerobic exercise. While the steady-state routine, where you work pretty much at the same intensity throughout, remains an effective workout, interval training offers a fun and interesting way to add variety and burn more calories in shorter periods of time.

What is interval training?

Simply put, interval training is alternating short bursts of more intense movement with intervals of lighter intensity. You may choose almost any type of exercise and select your own speed and intensity to fit your fitness level, and you may do intervals in gyms or at home, or take it outside, even with swimming. Interval workouts range from beginner's level to a workout called Tabata, which is very high-intensity training (usually full-out intensity) and geared toward advanced exercisers.

Sample workouts

There are many variations of interval training. Here are two popular versions:

Cardio intervals: This workout varies the intensity of cardio movements, such as alternating a three-minute walk with a one-minute run for 15 to 20 minutes. If you're not into running, try a brisk walk.

Strength-cardio intervals: This total body workout adds cardio movements between strength exercises. (It's one of my favorite ways to work out.)

Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program. Sally Anderson is happy to hear from readers but can't respond to individual inquiries. Reach her at slafit@tampabay.rr.com.